San Francisco will spend $17 million in the coming years on pedestrian safety projects in spots identified as the most dangerous areas of the city for those on foot, Mayor Ed Lee announced today.
WalkFirst, a city initiative that combines collision data analysis with public outreach, identified 170 locations around San Francisco where improvements will be made over the next five years, Lee said.
Those areas, which make up 6 percent of the city’s roadway network, are responsible for 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities and injuries, according to the mayor.
There were 21 pedestrian deaths in San Francisco in 2013 and there have already been several in the new year.
“We’re tired of saying ‘We’re sorry,’” Lee said.
Among the projects identified by WalkFirst are the creation of new sidewalk bulbouts and traffic light timing changes along Sutter Street, and the installation of a new traffic light at Sunset Boulevard and Yorba Street, where a 78-year-old man was struck and killed in a crosswalk last month, Lee said.
He said the projects will be accompanied by a pedestrian awareness campaign, “Be Nice Look Twice,” as well as increased enforcement by San Francisco police of traffic laws.
“I’m asking my officers to not be so nice,” Lee said. “That enforcement should have effects on people’s behavior.”
Police Chief Greg Suhr noted that there have been more pedestrian deaths than homicides in San Francisco so far in 2014.
“It’s a problem,” Suhr said.
Nicole Schneider, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco, called WalkFirst “a sea change” in the city’s approach to pedestrian safety.
She said, “WalkFirst is a way for us to get to Vision Zero,” the city’s goal of eliminating all traffic deaths in San Francisco by 2024.
The mayor and other city officials asked for the public’s help in passing a transportation bond measure proposed for the November ballot that Lee said would provide $50 million in funding for pedestrian improvements.
More information about WalkFirst can be found at http://walkfirst.sfplanning.org.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News